Starting out as a two-minute sketch on Idle’s post-Monty Python comedy show, Rutland Weekend Television, The Rutles took on a life of their own when Saturday Night Live supremo Lorne Michaels produced a feature-length “mockumentary” on the rise and fall of the Prefab Four.
A brilliantly realised parody of The Beatles, All You Need Is Cash told the story of Dirk, Stig, Ron and Barry and their figure-hugging strides and took specific episodes of the moptops’ existence and lampooned them with style and hilarity.
Eric Idle played Dirk (modelled after Paul McCartney), Ricky Fataar played Stig (the George Harrison-inspired character), Neil Innes played Ron Nasty (based on John Lennon) and John Halsey was Barry Wom (real name Barrington Womble). The character’s truncated name was a play on how Ringo changed his name from Richard Starkey to Ringo Starr.
Whereas John Lennon said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus, Ron Nasty claims his band are bigger than God – only he’s been misheard and he means Rod, as in Stewart, who won’t be big for several years.
Cameos from the likes of Mick and Bianca Jagger, Paul Simon, George Harrison himself, Ron Wood, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray (as disc jockey Bill Murray The K) added to the fun, but the pieces de resistance were Neil Innes’ wonderful songs (Ouch!, Please Please Hold My Hand, Get Up And Go), affectionately packed with instantly recognisable Beatles motifs.
Barrington ‘Barry Wom’ Womble
Chastity/Mrs Iris Mountbatten
H.M. the Queen
Bill Murray the K
Mrs Emily Pules
Blind Lemon Pye
Rambling Orange Peel
Stanley J. Krammerhead III Jnr